Northwest Notes: Alexander-Walker, KAT, Thunder, Watson

Multifaceted Timberwolves guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker finally seems to have created a unique niche with his third NBA team, writes Oren Weisfeld of Alexander-Walker’s versatile game has earned him plaudits from key Minnesota personnel.

“There was a lot of pressure on him when he came into the league, whether it be, you know, a lot of it was self-imposed,” Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch said of the guard’s early years in New Orleans, where Finch served as an associate head coach. “He was trying too hard, trying to do too much, trying to prove everything, wanted it all at once.”

In 19.7 MPG off the bench for the 9-3 Timberwolves, Alexander-Walker is averaging 5.4 PPG, 2.4 APG, 1.8 RPG, 0.8 SPG and 0.8 BPG.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Though there has been much chatter swirling about the fit of star Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns alongside two other nominal centers, Rudy Gobert and Naz Reid, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic submits that Towns’ superlative offense makes him worth retaining. On Saturday evening, he led Minnesota’s successful 121-120 comeback against the Pelicans, scoring 29 points while shooting 10-of-11 from the field, dishing out nine dimes, grabbing six boards and topping it all off with the game-winner. It’s games like that one that make Towns such an important piece on a club with major postseason goals, according to Krawcyznski, who opines that the Wolves are on too much of a roll with Towns to trade him, for now.
  • Although Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault is trying to temper expectations for Oklahoma City, the club is already looking much improved this year, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Rookie center Chet Holmgren just turned in his best night yet, scoring 36 points while shooting 14-of-22 from the field, pulling down ten rebounds and dishing out five dimes. All-NBA point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, not to be outdone, chipped in 40 of his own. A clutch buzzer-beating triple from Holmgren propelled the Thunder to overtime against the Warriors on Saturday night, where the young team pulled out an impressive win. “We have a young team that will grow over time,” Daigneault said. “We don’t want to cap the potential of any of our players.” At 9-4, Oklahoma City might be arriving already.
  • Second-year Nuggets small forward Peyton Watson has earned regular rotation minutes this season. The UCLA product credits some tough love during his rookie season tenure with Denver’s NBAGL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, for abetting his long-term development, writes Bennett Durando of The Denver Post.
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